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Week 11 Headlines

Scott Haynes, College Football Senior Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - There isn't much time left in the 2009 college football season, and finally things are starting to take shape within the BCS. Though there are BCS-busters present like TCU and Boise State, the national title game looks to be a no-brainer at this point. Week 11 only solidified the notion that it is a three-team race to the finish line.

JUST WHAT THE BCS WANTED: The defending national champion Florida Gators, the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Texas Longhorns are the top teams in the BCS rankings and deservedly so. All three teams have rose to the challenge and put themselves into a position to play for the national title. The BCS wouldn't have it any other way. If everything goes according to plan, there will be no controversy this year. The Gators and Crimson Tide are set to meet in the SEC Championship Game with the winner gaining access to the BCS Championship Game. The Longhorns are the team that is in the best spot. Clearly the top team in the Big 12 this year, all the Longhorns have to do is win a couple of more games that they will be clearly favored in, and then they get their shot at either Florida or Alabama.

ON BORROWED TIME: It is becoming more and more apparent that Charlie Weis' time in South Bend is getting closer and closer to its end. Weis has failed to return Notre Dame to national prominence, as with last weekend's loss to Pittsburgh the Irish have now dropped eight straight to Top-10 foes. There have been very few highlights along the way. His biggest game was the 2005 effort against an unbelievably talented USC squad, and that was only a moral victory, as the Irish lost that game in the waning moments. That is where Weis peaked, and it has been a painful experience for the Notre Dame faithful ever since. Weis is still owed a whopping 18 million dollars over the course of his contract, but the powers that be in South Bend will need to get creative in figuring out how to buy Weis out. As for the Irish, they will need to go back to the drawing board and find a high-profile coach, no matter the cost. As for Weis, a return as an NFL coordinator may be the best thing.

RUNNING AWAY WITH THE HEISMAN?: The Heisman race is coming down to the wire, but it is not the preseason favorites like Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford or Colt McCoy who are eyeing up the coveted piece of hardware. Instead, it is a bevy of talented running backs that have come to the forefront.

I have gone back and forth on who is most deserving of the award heading into mid-November and my favorite at this time is Stanford running back Toby Gerhart. Not your typical tailback, Gerhart is a big back who has single- handedly put a surprising Cardinal team on his back and carried them to unexpected heights. Gerhart has rushed for 1,395 yards thus far with 19 TDs, and in my mind moved ahead of the pack with last week's 178-yard, three-TD annihilation of USC.

Mark Ingram is ranked 5th in the country in rushing with over 1,300 yards.
A very close second is Alabama's Mark Ingram. The talented sophomore rushed for 149 yards and two TDs in the win over Mississippi State, including a 70- yard TD scamper. On the season, Ingram has rushed for 1,297 yards and 10 TDs, while showing his versatility with 25 receptions, 225 receiving yards and three more scores.

Closing the gap in my estimation is Clemson's C.J. Spiller, who may be the best all-around talent in the college ranks. He showed his versatility in last week's win over NC State, rushing for a TD, catching a TD pass and actually throwing one as well. Add the fact that he may be the best return man in the game today (three kick returns for TDs and one on a punt return) and it is easy to see that Spiller is the nation's most electrifying player.

Guys like freshmen Dion Lewis (Pittsburgh) and LaMichael James (Oregon) and sophomore Jacquizz Rodgers (Oregon State) are also worthy of note this year, lending support to the notion that this may be one of the best RB fields in recent memory.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Sticking with the tailback theme, here are the top performances by the nation's best. All of the aforementioned runners had big showings in their respective games, with Gerhart, Spiller, Ingram, Lewis, James and Rodgers all leading their teams to big victories. However, the tailback that had the best week was Ole Miss' Dexter McCluster, who had to be spent after rumbling for 282 yards and four TDs against Tennessee. Also worthy of mention are Nevada's tailback tandem of Vai Taua (179 yards, two TDs) and Luke Lippincott (149 yards, three TDs), who completely destroyed Fresno State's defense.

SNEAK PEEK: There aren't any top-25 matchups on tap for this weekend, but that doesn't mean that there are no intriguing games, as 11th-ranked Oregon will take on Arizona while California faces 14th-ranked Stanford. Both games have Pac-10 title implications. Meanwhile, a struggling Kansas team invades Austin to take on third-ranked Texas, but the Longhorns must concentrate on the task at hand and not look ahead. Staying in the Big 12, the Kansas State Wildcats and Nebraska Cornhuskers battle in Lincoln for the Big 12 North title.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Scott Haynes at shaynes@sportsnetwork.com.
Scott Haynes
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